WE Week: David J. Bernstein on Sustaining an Evaluation Community of Practice

I am David J. Bernstein, a Senior Study Director with Westat, an employee-owned research and evaluation company. I am the President-elect of Washington Evaluators (WE), the Washington, DC/Virginia/Maryland area affiliate of the American Evaluation Association (AEA). This year marks the 30th anniversary of the WE.

As WE founder Michael Hendricks has noted, affiliates help develop an evaluation community in a local area: an evaluation community of practice. WE membership draws from the U.S. Federal government, state and local governments, nonprofits, academia, consulting firms, independent consultants, and the private sector.

WE is the second oldest AEA affiliate, and has been a model for other affiliates, providing a local or regional focus to complement AEA membership and services. Specific activities have evolved to meet the needs and interests of our members. WE offers monthly brown bag lunches and other professional development activities. WE worked with AEA’s Evaluation Policy Task Force to host Evaluators Visit Capitol Hill, an effort to reach out to members of Congress and their staff to inform them about evaluation and AEA. WE offers local evaluators informal opportunities to socialize and network, including an annual holiday party and happy hours. As an all-volunteer organization, the activities are a direct reflection of the interests and needs of our members.

The 2014 AEA Conference theme calls attention to the issues of sustainable and equitable living and the importance of building relationships. WE is all about sustainability and building relationships, and has provided leadership and membership opportunities for a wide variety of disciplines, institutions, political perspectives (a reflection of WE’s DC zeitgeist), and cultural traditions.

WE is not just an acronym, it is also a not-so-subliminal message: WE are in this together. WE is a collective effort, made up of activities and networks developed by volunteers for volunteers. WE focuses on developing professional and social relationships among its members. You don’t just belong to WE, you join it, become part of it, and hopefully take advantage of it. Community is WE’s raison d’etre. We exist so evaluators have a place to network, meet other evaluators, learn about evaluation, develop professionally, celebrate the holidays, and sometimes find new work partners and employment.

Hot tip: Are you from the DC area? Join WE. Is there an affiliate in your area?  Join up, or start a new affiliate. WE would be glad to help

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating Washington Evaluators (WE) Affiliate Week. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from WE Affiliate members. Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to aea365@eval.org. aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

1 thought on “WE Week: David J. Bernstein on Sustaining an Evaluation Community of Practice”

  1. Pingback: WE Week: Stephanie Shipman and Valerie Caracelli on Building Evaluation Capacity in a Budget-Constrained Environment · AEA365

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